Posts on the topic of "Middle East"
I wrote here how the media reported that the controversial film, "Innocence of Muslims," was made "with Jewish money, by a Jewish filmmaker" – an Israeli, in fact, trying to "help his native land."
We now know that the filmmaker is really an Egyptian-American Coptic Christian named Nakoula Basseley Nakoula. Yet Associated Press and others failed in this most basic obligation to fact-check.
Not surprisingly, the Muslim world has continued this theme, blaming the Jews for producing the inflammatory anti-Islam film.
This cartoon appeared in the newspapers Ar-Raya (Qatar) and Ash-Shuruq (Algeria).
The caption reads: "The Killing of the US Ambassador in Libya." Note the stars of David on the filmmaker's shirtsleeves.
Tragically, these lies are more than just factual inaccuracies or a PR issue. These myths remain firmly engraved in Arab lore, fomenting an atmosphere of mistrust that will linger for decades, and that ultimately undermine the possibility of peaceful coexistence.
HT: Tom Gross
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Not long ago I picked up a hitchhiker in Israel. I don't usually do so randomly, but this guy had a sincere look about him. He got in and I started the conversation.
"Where are you from?" I asked.
"I was born in Yemen," he answered.
I thought that all the Yemenite Jews had come to Israel on Operation Magic Carpet in 1950. He looked about 18 years old, and my brain quickly calculated that something didn't jive here.
"If you were born in Yemen, when did you come to Israel?" I asked.
"Two weeks ago," he said.
I was shocked. He then told me all about life in Yemen, and about his transition to a far more Western culture. (He was wielding a smartphone and seemed to fit right in.)
It turns out there are about 130 Jews still living in Yemen today. The hitchhiker told me that his family had stayed so long because of business reasons; they left because Yemen has seen a rise in radical Islamic fervor (think USS Cole) and threats against Jews. In 2008, a 30-year-old rabbi was killed when a Yemenite air force pilot told him, "Jew, accept Islam's message" and then shot him five times.
Just this month Aharon Zindani, a 49-year-old Yemenite man, was tragically stabbed to death in what is being described as an anti-Semitic incident. He was buried in Israel on Thursday.
Jews have lived in Yemen uninterrupted for nearly 3,000 years. It's incredible to think that may soon come to an end.
Israel gave up a lot when it signed the 1979 Camp David accords with Egypt: oil fields, a cutting-edge air force base, and a huge security buffer against its southern neighbor.
Israel did get something in return: A solemn promise by the Egyptian government to end its state of belligerence against Israel. This promise was backed up by the United States, and has held – albeit coldly – for three decades.
Now, with the rise of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, this all threatens to fall apart. A new survey by the Pew Global Attitudes Project shows that 61 percent of Egyptians favor abandoning the Egypt-Israel peace treaty (up from 54 percent a year ago).
Egypt is now in the midst of presidential elections and the radical Muslim Brotherhood has emerged as the dominant political force. One leading candidate and former Muslim Brotherhood leader, Abdel Moneim Aboul Fotouh, declared: "I do not and will not recognize Israel." In a presidential debate last month, he said that the peace agreement with Israel was a threat to national security and vowed to amend the Camp David Accords: "Israel is an enemy... The majority of Egyptians are enemies of Israel. The agreement with Israel should be revised and the sections which are against our interests should be removed immediately."
This is not an exclusively "Israel problem." The Pew poll also finds that 61 percent of Egyptians believe that the billions of dollars of U.S. aid to Egypt has a "mostly negative" impact. Among the candidates, Aboul Fotouh denounced the assassination of Osama Bin Laden by U.S. forces as an act of "state terrorism."
Next week, the two top candidates will face a run-off vote in the presidential election. One of the contenders, Mohamed Morsy, is chairman of a political party founded by the Muslim Brotherhood after the 2011 Egyptian revolution. At the launch of Morsy's candidacy last month, Egyptian Cleric Safwat Higazi declared before a huge crowd that Morsy will "liberate Jerusalem" as the new capital of the "United States of the Arabs."
"Our capital shall not be Cairo… it shall be Jerusalem," Higazi declared. "Our cry shall be: Millions of martyrs march toward Jerusalem." (See video below.)
The world had hoped that the Arab Spring would usher in a new era of calm and civility in the Middle East. Yet Syria is still slaughtering its citizens, Iran is still hurtling toward the Bomb, and if the Egyptian election itself is any indication, we're in for some very stormy weather.
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Look out, Schottenstein. A Jordanian research center has now published the first-ever Arabic translation of the Babylonian Talmud, the classic repository of Jewish wisdom and law.
The project is the brainchild of Jordan's Center for Middle Eastern Studies. Approximately 100 translators and researchers worked for six years to produce the 20-volume Arabic version of Talmud.
The Talmud is written in Aramaic, the common language spoken in Israel and the Jewish Diaspora 1800 years ago.
The new Arabic translation, covering 7,100 pages, retails for $750 a set.
This appears to be a growing trend. In 2009 Egyptian researchers translated Maimonides' magnum opus, Mishneh Torah, entirely into Arabic.
What motivated the Jordanian group to undertake such a mammoth project? Officially, it is "to make the Talmud accessible to the Arab population."
A closer look at the publisher's introduction, however, reveals an ulterior motive:
Another failed attempt by the Arab world to pull itself out of ancient hatreds and into the 21st century.
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In May 2010, anti-Israel activists got a big boost when armed Turkish militants (with ties to Hamas, Hezbollah and al-Qaeda) were killed in the Gaza Flotilla.
Since then, activists have tried a whole variety of tricks to confront Israel. A much-ballyhooed ship ― audaciously named the Audacity of Hope ― was stopped by the Greek Coast Guard a few minutes after leaving port.
Last month, activists tried a "Million-man March," which fizzled out when only a few hundred people showed up.
Today, hundreds of Europeans had planned to board airplanes for a "flytilla" protest in Israel, but the entire enterprise collapsed when Lufthansa, Air France and other airlines simply denied the right to board and cancelled their tickets.
The best part is this letter from the government of Israel addressed to the Flytilla activists. It makes the point loud and clear that Israel is the lone beacon of civil rights in a largely dictatorial Mideast region.
Passover marks the birth of the Jewish nation 3,300 years ago ― the Exodus from Egypt ― which left millions of Jews as refugees. Yet we persevered, innovated, and built a flourishing new home in the land of Israel. It was, by all estimates, the most successful refugee settlement enterprise in human history.
This got me thinking about events 60 years ago, when 850,000 Jews were forced from their homes in countries like Iraq, Morocco, Yemen and ― ironically ― Egypt. They made their way to Israel, where they were successfully resettled, and today form the core of the modern State of Israel.
Now the Israeli government is reiterating a demand that the Arab League acknowledge responsibility for expelling these Jews from Arab countries and turning them into refugees.
Over the years, the media has been incredibly near-sighted in promoting only the Palestinian half of the refugee story. For example, the Los Angeles Times published an op-ed declaring that "All refugees have the right to return… that cannot be negotiated away." And when the 2011 WikiLeaks diplomatic cables showed that peace negotiations had achieved progress in solving the Palestinian refugee issue, the London Guardian reacted not with joy, but rather by castigating Palestinian leaders for not adopting a sufficiently hard-line stance. (See here and here.)
So as we celebrate the Jewish Exodus from Egypt, it's a good time to reflect on the modern refugee issue. Here's an excellent backgrounder from Israel's Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon:
Sheikh Abdul Aziz bin Abdullah, the Grand Mufti of Saudi Arabia (the country’s supreme religious figure), has declared it "necessary to destroy all the churches” in the Arabian Peninsula. This ruling is based on Muhammad’s declaration that "there cannot to be two religions” in the region, which has long been understood that anything other than Islam is “illegal.”
Saudi Arabia openly practices religious apartheid, with special roads and even entire cities for "Muslims only." Non-Muslim religious activities carry the risk of arrest, imprisonment, lashing and deportation. In 2008, Saudi police arrested 40 Christians for the "crime" of praying in a private house. A notice on the Saudi Airlines website prohibited the possession of any non-Islamic religious symbols – Bibles, crucifixes and the Star of David – mentioning them in the same breath as narcotics, firearms and pornography.
Remember when President George H.W. Bush went to celebrate Thanksgiving with American troops? Saudi authorities protested his intention to say grace, and the celebration had to be moved to international waters aboard the U.S.S. Durham.
By contrast, Israel is the only country in the Middle East where the Christian population is steadily increasing. Similarly, Israel permits its one million Muslim residents to freely build minarets, wear burqas and pray in the streets – activities that are variously illegal in the "progressive" nations of Switzerland, Holland, Belgium and France.
Part of the difference, I believe, is that Judaism does not proselytize or demand that everyone become Jewish. The prophet Isaiah referred to the Holy Temple in Jerusalem as a "house for all nations." In fact Maimonides states that the popularity of Christianity and Islam are part of God’s plan to spread the ideals of monotheism throughout the world.
Think about this next time someone accuses Israel of “racism” or “apartheid.”
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With Syria in the midst of a brutal crackdown that has left 5,000 people dead, it’s time to ask: Why does the media paint such a glowing portrait of the dictator Bashar Assad and his wife Asma?
This video brings examples from NBC Nightly News, Vogue magazine, and ABC News – as cited in my book, David & Goliath.
Be prepared for shock and outrage.
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Here's a classic in the annals of fauxtography:
A photo has been hurtling through cyberspace (via Facebook, natch), showing an "Israeli soldier" ostensibly pointing his rifle at a little Palestinian girl, while digging his boot into her chest.
Alert media monitors noted that the soldier depicted in the photo could not possibly be Israeli, as the rifle is an AK-47 (the IDF uses M16 and M4 weapons), and both the boots and pants do not match IDF uniforms.
So where did the libelous photo originate? At an anti-Israeli "street theater" exhibition in the Persian Gulf kingdom of Bahrain. Here's the uncropped image:
Of course, none of this is new. As an Aish.com film documents, Facebook is filled with anti-Israel imagery.
As I demonstrate in my new book, David & Goliath, there is a cottage industry ― affectionately known as Pallywood ― dedicated to producing pro-Palestinian images. When Palestinian officials alleged that Israel was using radioactive uranium and nerve gas against civilians, official PA television broadcast fake "news footage" of "victims" plagued by vomiting and convulsions. Another clip from state-run Palestinian TV used actors to depict Israeli soldiers "raping and murdering" a Palestinian girl in front of her horrified parents.
And then there's the time that Palestinian actors staged a "funeral" for unsuspecting journalists. This Pallywood production ― secretly videotaped by an Israeli drone ― shows a man walking over to a stretcher, lying down, being wrapped in a shroud, and being carried in the "funeral procession." When the "dead body" falls off the stretcher, he stands up and climbs back on. And when the "corpse" is dropped a second time, he stomps off angrily ― apparently regarding his own funeral as too dangerous to his health.
And now we have the Bahrain photo ― just another salvo in the Israeli-Arab cyber war. If you ever doubted how fast things spread through the Internet, click on this link to Google images (mouse over the images to see what website they're posted on).